US Americans Relocate for Romance and the Good Life
- 44% potentially want to stay abroad forever.
- 17% moved abroad for love.
- The cost of living abroad was considered a benefit before moving by 53%.
- 74% feel at home in their respective host country.
- 23% are retired.
New Adventures and Improved Quality of Life
Over a third of US American respondents (35%) are currently living abroad for the first time, compared to the survey average of 28%. Despite a lack of previous expat experience, US expats seem to be truly enjoying life abroad — over two in five (44%) state that they are planning to stay abroad possibly forever, compared to just 32% among all respondents worldwide.
While love is the most frequently mentioned motivation for relocating (17%), about one in eleven US expats (9%) say that a better quality of life was their main reason for moving abroad. In fact, almost half the expats from the US (49%) say they considered healthcare standards a potential benefit before relocating, compared to the average of 40%. It is therefore no surprise that a staggering 47% completely agree that healthcare in their respective host country is affordable compared to the worldwide average of 27%.
In fact, among foreign nationals who have moved to the US, a staggering 68% rate the affordability of healthcare negatively, compared to the global average of just 24% — the consensus seems to be that medical care in the US is not always affordable.
Not Yet Mastering the Language
Among US American expats, a majority of 89% speak the local language of their host country at least a little, and 22% even state that they speak it very well: however, this is still five percentage points below the global average (27%).
Over one in eight respondents from the US (13%) did say that improving their language skills was a reason for moving abroad, highlighting some desire to learn a new language. Yet, just 1% state that the prospect of improving their language proficiency was the main reason for choosing to relocate.
Americans Follow Their Hearts Abroad
Education (3%) and language skills are not the most pressing reasons why US Americans decide to move abroad. Instead, it seems they are really romantics at heart: as mentioned above, about one in six (17%) moved abroad for love or to live in their partner’s home country, compared to 12% globally.
It is hardly surprising then that 50% of US expats in a committed relationship are romantically involved with a partner from their current country of residence. At the same time, 39% of US expats in a romantic relationship met their significant other in their new host country — finding love abroad seems to be no challenge for them. In fact, a majority of 87% are satisfied with their relationship, just slightly more than the global average (85%).
Lower Incomes but Lower Cost of Living
However, when it comes to working abroad, this may not be as lucrative for US American expats as one would like: 44% state that their income is lower in their host country than it would be in a comparable position in the US, 17 percentage points above the global average of 27%. This result may be somewhat surprising, given that an above-average proportion of US American expats are highly qualified: 10% have a PhD, compared to the worldwide average of 7%.
However, when rating the cost of living in their respective host country, over one in four (27%) agree that the cost of living is very affordable, compared to just 16% globally. In fact, 53% of US American expats considered the cost of living abroad a potential benefit before moving — while incomes may be lower abroad, so are living expenses.
Retiring Oversees and Working Flexibly
Nearly a quarter of US American expats (23%) describe their current employment status as retiree, compared to the global average of 11%. This may also explain why the average age of expats from the US is 51.5 years, 7.3 years above the survey average.
Among those who are still working, 15% describe themselves as teachers, academic staff, or researchers; this is obviously linked to the finding that close to three in ten US American expats (29%) work in education, including language education, compared to an average of 14% worldwide. Similarly, US respondents are overrepresented in the arts (5% vs. 3% globally), with 7% saying that they are freelancers, such as writers, designers, or artists.
Compared to the survey average of 16%, 22% of American expats work part time, which might be connected to the above-average proportion of freelancers or to the higher share of older expatriates.
Finding Friends Is Easy as Pie
US Americans do not seem to struggle with settling in: 74% agree that they feel at home abroad, ten percentage points more than the global average (64%). Similarly, expats from the US don’t seem to have many problems meeting new people and making new friends, including local friends. In general, 64% believe that making new friends in their host country is not a problem. Over half (53%) also agree that it is easy to find local friends in their new country of residence, while almost three in ten (28%) describe their friends and acquaintances as mostly local residents, compared to the global average of 19%.
However, while 81% are generally satisfied with their life abroad, 56% of those who are unhappy say that not having a personal support network in their host country contributes to this unhappiness, ten percentage points above the global average (46%).